Staff Editorial – Sodexo not to blame for students’ diet woes

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Everyone has heard about the Freshman 15, the dreaded weight every student is destined to gain while away at college.
While it may be tempting to blame the French fries in the cafeteria or the Cheetos in the vending machine, what that extra weight boils down to is personal choice. As adults, Illinois Wesleyan University students should hold themselves more accountable for their diet choices.
“There are healthy options at every station,” general manager of residential dining David Nicholson said. “It’s your choice what you put in your body.”
While many students would gripe that these healthy options are absent, a look at the nutritional information of The Dugout and Tommy’s is all that’s needed to see Nicholson is correct.
Of course, there are burgers and chips at both locations that are filled with empty calories.
But there are multiple meals available under 500 calories and a surprising number under 400 if students would just look a little bit closer at the labels.
While an order of chicken strips with fries and soda adds up to a whooping 1140 calories, a turkey sub with a piece of fruit and water rings in at only 515 calories while providing food from four different food groups – grains, meats, fruits and vegetables.
Additionally, the “Create Your Own Masterpiece” program in the Bertholf Commons and the customization found at the other locations allows students to customize their meals.
It is up to students whether they order a veggie burger with no sauce or a burger covered in mayonnaise, not Sodexo’s.
“We try to ensure that the unhealthy options are separate from main meals,” Nicholson said. “While gravy or other sauces may add flavor to the meal, we don’t put it in the dish. We leave that choice up to the students.”
The issue is not that Sodexo is only providing students with unhealthy options, but rather that the students are not choosing the healthy options.
It’s unfair to put the onus on Sodexo when it’s a student’s decision to eat loaded fries for three meals in a row.
As registered dietician Dianne Feasley says, “While the food provider is responsible for providing a variety of foods, the individual should take responsibility for their choices.”
At all of their locations, Sodexo either has nutritional information on display or has a printed sheet available upon request. It is also available online on Sodexo’s website and on their smart phone app.
With so many ways to get the nutritional facts, there is no excuse for students to not be aware of what they’re putting in their bodies. It would take just a few minutes to check up on the burger before putting in an order.
We’re not suggesting that you stop indulging in chicken strips and Pepsi – you can eat that three meals a day if you want – but don’t forget that you have a large number of healthy options as well.
“Remember, too much of anything isn’t good for you. Use moderation and be smart about your diet,” Nicholson said.